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Old 06-22-2010, 01:13 PM
 
Location: Ruidoso, NM
5,459 posts, read 5,578,058 times
Reputation: 4550

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Seems to be more funny business in my neighborhood...

Apparently someone has recently purchased tract 10 of Vista Rio Bonito (we own land in this development) in the plat below, and has parked a 5th wheel right on the edge of the Falls, that they are living in. This is in violation of the rules, but worse they are posting "no trespassing" signs everywhere around the Falls and loudly and angrily telling anyone who approaches that they *own* the Falls and will call the cops. Personally I've not encountered this person yet, since they have always been gone when I've visited.

As you can see in the plat, there is a 5 acre community park that surrounds the Falls, and it clearly states that access is through tract 1. None of these lots in the vicinity have been developed.

Unfortunately it doesn't show exactly *where* the access is. The natural access is to park at the end of the cul-de-sac on Sontiago and walk in from the west (through tract 1)... there is a gate and then dirt road and trail. I've visited there many times and it is a beautiful spot.

Access through the west side involves going through BLM land down a very steep and rocky road. Just getting to this point requires ~6 mile drive away from the development. Then you have to jump a high fence (with no-trespassing signs... apparently there is more private land east of tract 1) and hike in another couple miles. I'm pretty certain that the developers did not intend this to be the access route.

Last Sat evening my wife and I decided to visit the falls to see what they looked like in the moonlight. We were there ~10 minutes. While driving away 3 sheriffs deputies swooped down on us, so we got some taste of the situation. Basically, when someone calls, the cops come. There are "no trespassing" signs posted, and people claiming that they own the land. They don't know who to believe. We will get a ticket if we go there again. I happened to have a copy of the plat in the car, but they were not impressed, since it requires some interpretation and the rules of the development are not part of their business. So I'm thinking "ok, I'll get a ticket, go to court, and get it settled... and then the cops can ignore this person when they call." But will that happen? Is the plat good enough evidence of my right to be there?

If any of you have had similar experiences, I'd love to hear how you got it resolved.
Attached Thumbnails
Access easements and shenanigans... Bonito Falls.-bonitofalls1.jpg  
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Old 06-22-2010, 01:22 PM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,478 posts, read 54,150,424 times
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I suggest spending the time and money to get a land lawyer and suing the newbie for blocking your access thorough and to common land. Ask for a big settlement. A really big settlement. Try for a group lawsuit by other development owners. The newbie was the first to play hardass so play back even harder. With luck the trial will cost them so much they will have to sell out. Then post the falls and access road as public development property so this does not happen again.
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Old 06-22-2010, 01:45 PM
 
Location: New Mexico U.S.A.
26,521 posts, read 45,138,035 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rruff View Post
I happened to have a copy of the plat in the car, but they were not impressed, since it requires some interpretation and the rules of the development are not part of their business. So I'm thinking "ok, I'll get a ticket, go to court, and get it settled... and then the cops can ignore this person when they call." But will that happen? Is the plat good enough evidence of my right to be there?
Law enforcement personnel do not normally make land interpetation decisions, that is what judges are for.

You might get it cleared up in court. Hopefully.

I would not even state in court "and then the cops can ignore this person when they call"

The land should probably be properly marked by the true owners, whoever that is. I had the issue come up twice in two states (PA and MD), I was fortunate that I was able to locate the metal survey markers, and I marked just the corners with a small one foot picket fence and a small shrub.

If you have a Home Owners Association, they probably need to be notified in writing, probably certified. You might ask for some guidance from the county. You might have to get an attorney.


Rich
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Old 06-22-2010, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Ruidoso, NM
5,459 posts, read 5,578,058 times
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That sounds like a great idea, but being totally new to this and since it's going to cost me a couple thousand $$$ just to get a lawyer started, I'm going to proceed with caution. My concerns currently are:

a) Maybe since the access easement route is not mapped, they can claim it's invalid... or claim it is somewhere that is impossible to get through. I'm sure the owner of tract 1 would like to keep everyone out as well.

b) A friend mentioned a situation where easements and rules in their development were deemed invalid because several years had passed without an association existing to enforce them. Vista Rio Bonito existed for quite awhile with very large lots, and a few years ago the remaining lots were split up... so maybe...

c) The owners have enough money and connections to get their way.

I'm currently trying to find out who is running our "association"... we send $200/yr to somebody...

Wouldn't you like to have this in your yard? Especially nice if you can keep everybody else out...

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Old 06-22-2010, 02:25 PM
 
Location: Ruidoso, NM
5,459 posts, read 5,578,058 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poncho_NM View Post
The land should probably be properly marked by the true owners, whoever that is.
Just to be clear, the access through tract 1 (which the plat states is the legal access) is covered with no trespassing signs and has been for at least 3 years. I simply ignore them. The tract 1 owner lives in Texas and is never seen. I have no idea if the owners of tracts 1 and 10 know each other and are working together on this, but it wouldn't surprise me.

If the owners of surrounding tracts can successfully block access to the park by others, then they will effectively have it to themselves. That appears to be what they are after.
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:44 PM
 
Location: Ruidoso, NM
1,643 posts, read 4,502,570 times
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This is a gorgeous spot and should be accessible to EVERYONE, not just the people with a share in the HOA. I don't know the law that well, but know enough to believe that no one has the right to restrict access to a flowing creek. Those falls are not far from a public bridge crossing - at least I believe it's a county maintained bridge.

That having been said, I used to enjoy going to this spot before the developers moved in and put it off limits to anyone driving off the county road. I was chased off by the developer's agent when the property was first posted. I used to love to sit on that big block-shaped rock below the falls and sketch and paint the scenery there. Nice shade trees too.

I don't know what the options are but certainly the HOA must have a lawyer on call for such problems. I know from experience that the local police will not become involved in "civil cases" - which this is. If the property is posted, they do have an obligation to the property owner to issue trespassing citations.

Oddly, if the property is NOT posted and someone complains about trespassers, nothing will be done even though the police may know full well that it is private property and the person has no business being there. I learned this the hard way. Which in effect means that if someone is prowling around my house when I'm not home and the police are called, they cannot arrest the person without "due cause."

Here's rather confusing overview by the NEW MEXICO Parks and Rec. web site addressing primarily stream use for navigation (boating).

Here's a clip from just one article I was able to find on the public's right of access to waterways:
Quote:
Montana's 20-year-old stream-access law, which declares that the state's rivers and streams are public property up to the high-water mark, provides a clear window into land-use battles. The law, among the strongest in the nation, has survived numerous legal challenges and become a source of pride for many Montanans (including Gov. Brian Schweitzer), though it's still fiercely opposed by property-rights advocates.


The law does not require property owners to provide entry to waterways through their own land, but it does permit access from any public property. As a result, among the most common access points are county bridges. That's where Mr. Kennedy has run into trouble: his ranch includes all or parts of two bridges that cross the Ruby River, and he has blocked access by reinforcing old fencing along those bridges. Stream-access advocates have sued the county for allowing the fences, setting the stage for a showdown on a controversy that has raged for almost a decade.

Last edited by jaxart; 06-22-2010 at 07:04 PM..
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Old 06-23-2010, 12:48 AM
 
Location: Ruidoso, NM
5,459 posts, read 5,578,058 times
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I also agree that it should be accessible to anyone. There *are* two ways to get in via the law you stated. You could walk in from the road listed "Vista Rio Bonito" on the plat. Or you could walk along the river from the BLM on the east side. When the river flooded 2 summers ago the high water mark was *very* high. At the Box Canyon crossing (about a mile west) the Bonito was at least 200ft wide, and 4 ft above the bridge.

So... you and anyone else can legally get in there... but that won't prevent someone from claiming you are trespassing and calling the cops... and you getting a ticket! There is something wrong with this policy...
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Old 06-23-2010, 06:18 AM
TKO
 
Location: On the Border
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Any way you could post the text on the signature page of the plat? That seems likely to go into the specifics a little more (usually the way plats are). I assume you've read it, what does it say about the park, access roads in general? Who pays taxes on the park? Find that out through the assessor's office.
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Old 06-23-2010, 06:33 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,478 posts, read 54,150,424 times
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As I suggested: Get a lawyer or kiss your access to that place goodby.
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Old 06-23-2010, 09:09 AM
 
Location: Ruidoso, NM
1,643 posts, read 4,502,570 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rruff View Post
I also agree that it should be accessible to anyone.
This is a prime example of local government failing to protect valuable land assets from developers.

When I lived in Austin, TX, where the city was in the throes of rapid development, there was a law requiring subdivision developers to set apart creek drainage as public park space - deeding that land to the city, as I recall. Several developers had really nice layouts with hike/bike paths and playgrounds, etc that were mostly for the local residents, but also not restricted from use by the general public.

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